in: How To, Podcast, Skills

• Last updated: May 21, 2024

Podcast #990: The Dude’s Guide to Laundry: How to Save Time, Money, and Your Wardrobe

If you didn’t grow up doing your own laundry, once you headed out on your own, you probably just figured things out on the fly, hoped for the best, and have been doing things the same way ever since. But, while you may be getting the job done okay, you also might be making some mistakes that are costing you time, money, and cleaner clothes.

In this episode from the Art of Manliness department of essential life skills, we’ll cover all the things you should have learned as a young man but never did, and how to do your laundry effectively. Our guide is Patric Richardson, aka the “Laundry Evangelist,” a laundry expert who runs how-to-do-laundry camps, hosts the television show The Laundry Guy, and is the author of Laundry Love. Today on the show, Patric shares the one cycle and water temperature you should use for all of your clothes, exactly how much detergent you should be using (which is a lot less than you think), how often you should wash your clothes (which is less often than you think), why you shouldn’t ever use dryer sheets (and what to throw in your dryer instead), how regardless of what the tag says, you can wash anything at home (including a wool suit), how to easily get rid of stains (including yellow pit stains), and many more tips that will save you time, money, and hassle in doing your laundry.

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Read the Transcript

Brett McKay: Brett McKay here and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. If you didn’t grow up doing your own laundry, once you headed out on your own, you probably just figured things out on the fly, hope for the best, and have been doing things the same way ever since. But while you may be getting the job done okay, you also might be making some mistakes that are costing you time, money, and cleaner clothes. In this episode, from The Art of Manliness Department of Essential Life Skills, we’ll cover all the things you should have learned as a young man, but never did. And how to do your laundry effectively. Our guide is Patric Richardson, AKA the Laundry evangelist, a laundry expert who runs how to do laundry camps, hosts the television show, The Laundry Guy, and is the author of Laundry Love.

Today in the show, Patric shares the one cycle and water temperature you should use for all your clothes, exactly how much detergent you should be using, which is a lot less than you think. How often you should wash your clothes, which is less often than you think. Why you should never use dryer sheets and what to throw in your dryer instead. How regardless of what the tag says, you can wash anything at home, including a wool suit, how to easily get rid of stains, including yellow pit stains, and many more tips that’ll save you time, money, and hassle in doing your laundry. After the show’s over, check out our show notes at

Patric Richardson, welcome to the show.

Patric Richardson: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. This is gonna be fun.

Brett McKay: This is gonna be a lot of fun because you are the laundry evangelist.

Patric Richardson: Yes.

Brett McKay: You run a popular laundry camp where you teach people how to do laundry better. You host a TV show called The Laundry Guy. You are the laundry guy. And you’ve written a book called Laundry Love. All about the ins and outs of laundry. So how did you become the laundry evangelist/laundry guy?

Patric Richardson: Well, let me give you the longest possible answer as short as I possibly can. When I was two and a half years old, one of my earliest memories is handing my granny clothes pins to put clothes on the clothesline. And I loved laundry enough by that point that I turned three in November, and that December Santa brought me a toy washing machine. And from that point it was off to the races. I always loved laundry, so I studied apparel and textiles in college. When I left the University of Kentucky, I moved to Minnesota and I worked for Neiman Marcus and then for Nordstrom. And about 11… Oh gosh, it was 12 years ago now. Oh, time flies. I opened a designer vintage store and I carried these beautiful vintage pieces, but I knew they wouldn’t survive if people didn’t know how to take care of them, so I carried laundry product. And from there everybody was way more interested in the laundry product than they were the designer vintage. There was an article written about my love of washing everything and everybody kept asking the same questions. So I launched a laundry camp and from there everything else happened.

Somebody saw me and talked about the shows. Karin who helped with the book, came to camp and was like, “You really need to write a book and I’m gonna help you do it”. And all bets are off from there, right.

Brett McKay: Right. So you are a textile expert. This is what you… I mean, you’ve been doing this since you were a kid. You went to college, you studied textiles, you’re the expert. And I’m hoping in this conversation we can help make laundry better, easier, and even a bit more enjoyable for people, ’cause it’s one of those chores, like it just never stops. You have to do your laundry for the rest of your life. So let’s talk about supplies and equipment first, let’s talk about gear.

Patric Richardson: Sure.

Brett McKay: Let’s start with washing machine. What kind of washing machine do you recommend for people to get to have the the best wash?

Patric Richardson: Okay. So any more… The technology has gotten so good. I don’t have the hardcore opinion that I used to have. I will tell you I still prefer front loader. I will always prefer front loader, but top loading, washing machines with no agitators. The technology’s gotten so good that if you like top loader, go ahead, it’s fine. I’m always gonna prefer front loader because I just like the… I like the mechanism that makes them work. I like the way they work a little better. But more importantly, make sure that you can control the time to get that 30 minute wash cycle and you do whatever you need to do to make sure that your clothes are being washed in water that’s at least 65 degrees. In my book, I say you need to wash in warm and you are hearing it here first because I literally found this out two days ago. There’s a washing machine company now that is setting their cold setting with a thermometer. So it’s actually blending in as much warm water as it needs to to make their cold water wash 65 degrees.

So if you’re gonna go buy a brand new machine, if you haven’t bought one in the last few months, you don’t have that. But if you’re gonna go buy a brand new machine, that is actually now an option. So being able to do your short cycle and get the water to 65 degrees would be the two most important things to me.

Brett McKay: Okay. I need you to sell me on the high efficiency washing machines, ’cause my wife and I, we’ve got the the old school agitator washing machine that our moms had growing up.

Patric Richardson: Sure.

Brett McKay: And the reason why is when we’ve seen the high efficiency washing machines in action, we look and it’s like, “There’s not any water in there. There’s hardly any water in there and it’s just kind of… ”

Patric Richardson: A couple of gallons.

Brett McKay: Yeah. And it’s just kind of like, just sort of gently moving it around. It’s like how are clothes getting washed in that? So make the case for the high efficiency. Should we ditch the old school agitator washing machine?

Patric Richardson: Sure. Well the reason you should ditch the old school agitator is because the worst thing you do to your clothes in the laundry process is actually agitation or abrasion. It’s your clothes rubbing against themselves. The way the agitator cleans is it forces the clothes against each other. The way a high efficiency machine cleans, let’s do a front loader first, ’cause it’s an easier visual. The clothes are lifted up out of the water and they fall back into the water. They’re lifted up out of the water and they fall back into the water. When that water forces through the clothes, that’s the cleaning process. Modern top loaders have what’s called an impeller, and it makes your clothes move like a carousel. So they come out of the water, go back in the water, come out of the water, go back in the water. And it really is the water that cleans your clothes. It’s not the detergent.

So the way that you force the water through the clothes is the cleaning process. And so new machines, because they don’t have that much water, it’s easier for your clothes to come out of the water, go back in the water. With an agitator they don’t come out of the water. What actually happens, if you ever look at it, it’ll spin and jerk, spin and jerk. And when it’s jerking, it’s forcing the water back through the clothes, but it’s also rubbing them against themselves.

So that’s the big perk to the HE.

Brett McKay: Okay. So it’s gonna put less wear and tear in your clothing and y’all say it cleans better and you’re using less water.

Patric Richardson: You’re using significantly less water. But I mean, I say that Laundry love is a sustainable book because all the practices in it are very sustainable. But I didn’t write it from a standpoint of sustainability. So yes, you use less water, it’s 100% correct. But I don’t tell people, that’s why they should use an HE machine. I tell them they should use it. It’s because it’s better for your clothes.

Brett McKay: Yeah. And those agitators can get really violent. A few weeks ago I think we had a load of sheets in the washing machine and somehow like a ball formed inside the fitted sheet, and all of a sudden I heard this… And then I walked in the laundry room and our washing machine was literally walking across the floor, ’cause this ball was just beating against the side. And I was like, “Oh my gosh”.

Patric Richardson: Yeah, it gets so out of balance.

Brett McKay: Yeah. Yeah, it freaked me out. Okay. So we might have to think about getting the front loader. And I think one of the things too, you can stack those things if you want. Right. You can get two on top of each other and do two loads if you want. I’ve seen people do that. It’s one of another benefits.

Patric Richardson: Yeah, if I had the laundry room of my dreams, which I don’t, but if I did I would do two stackables. I do two washers, two dryers. Because you could do them in the same footprint.

Brett McKay: Yeah. Well you mentioned washing machine technology, you don’t have a really strong opinion on things these days ’cause technology has changed. How has it changed, so that you don’t have much of an opinion on whether you get this one or that one?

Patric Richardson: Well, I mean they’ve gotten so good. Every manufacturer has tested the machine and they’ve gotten so good at water efficiency. I mean that almost every machine now has a computer in it, which I mean gives you all sorts of little things that you don’t know. Like it keeps your machine in balance. It controls the water temperature, it controls how much water it can sense, but just even the basic technology, if you buy the most basic HE machine, the technology is better than the most high-end HE machine when they first launched in the ’90s. Because we’ve just figured out how to move the clothes, and the real key to getting your clothes clean is moving the clothes. In the ’70s, the machines of the ’70s, we didn’t know, like if we put fins in the bottom of the machine, it’ll move the clothes up and down, all we knew is turn and jerk, and to fill it up with water and to add a bunch of powder detergent and pray. Now we know, we can speed up the spin cycle. We have the ability to speed up the spin cycle first of all, ’cause the motors are so much more powerful. So more water spins outta the clothes, which means less time in the dryer.

My washing machine, if you do a warm wash, it actually cools before it does the rinse. Which is something that just didn’t exist 10 years ago, and now you can like add steam if you want that extra little cleaning boost. Just the technology of just regular washing machines has gotten so fantastic. I mean, I’m not talking about machines that are nine or $10,000. I’m talking about what you would go into, when you go to an appliance store and you go in and you buy a washing machine, these are just… That’s what I’m talking about, just everyday washing machines. That it’s just, we have sensor dry, we have high speed spin, they can take more weight. The washing machines in the ’70s, you can only do about 15 pounds worth of clothes. Now you can easily do 30. We just understand technology in general.

Brett McKay: Okay. So washing machine, the high efficiency washing machine, that’s the way to go. Less wear and tear uses less water. Just does a great job of getting your clothes clean. What about detergent? What do you recommend for detergent?

Patric Richardson: Well, my favorite is soap, but that’s kind of rare, it’s hard to find. I prefer soap to detergent. Their difference is the way they’re manufactured. Soap is a base, plus an acid and it create… It saponifies, it creates soap. Detergent is cleaning ingredients that are mixed together. I prefer soap because it rinses cleaner. But if you’re just gonna buy detergent at the grocery, great. Look for something that’s plant-based. But what matters the most is only use about two tablespoons for a full load. You don’t need very much detergent.

Brett McKay: Why is that?

Patric Richardson: Because it isn’t the detergent that cleans your clothes, it’s the water. And the detergent does two things, it lowers the viscosity of water, which is a fancy way of saying it softens the water. But the big thing is there’s a surfactant in soap and or detergent. And surfactant means it floats on the surface of the water. The dirt comes out of your clothes, it gets trapped in the surfactant and it goes down the drain. If you’re using too much detergent, the dirt comes out of the clothes, it gets trapped in the surfactant, but it can’t rinse away. So the only place it has to go is to resettle back into your clothes. That’s how we end up with like crunchy towels or dingy white, or sometimes things have this kind of musty odor when they come out of the washer, that’s all because the detergent is still there. There’s just too much detergent.

Brett McKay: That’s interesting because like when you look at the instructions for detergent on the big brand detergents, like you’re putting a lot in there. It’s like a cup or like the lid full.

Patric Richardson: Right. The best way I can explain that is… I sell… I have a store in the Mall of America and I sell laundry soap and it’s $26 a pound. If there’s some way that I could convince you that you needed a pound of soap for every load of laundry and you do it, I would be rich. Your clothes would be filthy, but I would be rich.

Brett McKay: Okay. What about laundry pods? I know a lot of people use that for the convenience factor. What are your thoughts on that?

Patric Richardson: They’re easy, but there’s enough detergent in one pod to do five loads of laundry.

Brett McKay: Oh geez.

Patric Richardson: I’m not really a fan because I like to be able to control how much, because you talked about you and your wife washing the sheets, that’s a big load of laundry, so you need a full load. But what if you just threw in, like you were out gardening and you both had shorts and a T-shirt, but it was dirty and you wanted to wash it. That’s a really small load, so you don’t need as much detergent. And the thing with pods is you just can’t control that.

Brett McKay: Okay, so laundry soap, where can people find that? Can you get it on Amazon? Where can you go to get that?

Patric Richardson: You can get it on Amazon. I mean you can get it in like Co-ops or Whole Foods.

Brett McKay: Okay.

Patric Richardson: What’s great is I’m starting to see it pop up in grocery stores.

Brett McKay: Okay.

Patric Richardson: Because it’s a greener option, so it’s becoming more common. So that to me is super exciting.

Brett McKay: Does it come in flakes? Is that how it is?

Patric Richardson: It’s usually flakes. Occasionally it’ll be powder, but it’s most often flakes.

Brett McKay: I’ve seen bars of laundry soap before. What are those for?

Patric Richardson: That’s like more for a stain removal. It’s usually too aggressive. Like there are people who shave it and use it as laundry soap. I’m not a big fan because it’s actually formulated for stain removal.

Brett McKay: Okay.

Patric Richardson: So it’s pretty aggressive.

Brett McKay: Okay. Besides the laundry soap, any other supplies you recommend having on hand so you can get your laundry done easily?

Patric Richardson: Well spray bottle of vinegar and water for sure, because that is my go-to stain remover. If I have a stain on a shirt, I’m always gonna spray it with vinegar and water. And then your bar of laundry soap you just asked about, and a horse hair brush, because if you wet the brush and you run it across the bar and build lather up in the brush and attack a stain, you can get out just about anything. And the reason you do it that way is because if you use the bar and you wet it, you’re actually pushing the stain further into the fabric. If you use the bristles of the brush, the bristles like, it’s like brushing your teeth, it sort of lifts everything up and gets it out of the fabric.

Brett McKay: I think it’s interesting the vinegar and water mixture, that’s your go-to stain removal. So you’re not using like the shout or things like that to get rid of stains?

Patric Richardson: I don’t use anything. I mean, I use for my laundry, I use an oily soap, which you could use liquid hand soap. People use dish soap and that’s a… Here’s my issue with dish soap. The technology, the number one brand of dish soap, the technology has gotten so good, they have put it in a spray bottle and you can literally spray it on a pan and wipe it off and like wash the pan. The way they did that is they made it really, really acidic. Which is great because it does what it’s supposed to do perfectly. The thing is, if you were to do it on a black T-shirt and you sprayed that on, it’s so acidic you’ll get the stain out, but it’ll look like it left a mark. So I use liquid hand soap, which same thickness ’cause that’s what I want, but without that acidity. So liquid hand soap, stain bar, stain brush, vinegar and water, and then occasionally oxygen bleach. And that is literally everything I use for the laundry.

Brett McKay: What’s the oxygen? Is that OxiClean?

Patric Richardson: Yeah, that’s the most common brand. The reason I love oxygen bleach, it’ll take out red wine, it’ll take out blueberries, it’ll take out blood. But the big thing is if you have polar fleece or you have active wear, and you wear it and when you wash it, you put it back on, it smells terrible. That’s because it’s hydrophobic and lipophilic, it hates water, it loves oil. So it loves the oil from your skin, and the bacteria in the oil in your skin. And the water isn’t enough to take it away. The oxygen bleach will break it down. So it’ll actually break that sweat down and wash it out of the fabric so it doesn’t have that odor anymore.

Brett McKay: Oh yeah. Hope we can talk more about that, getting your active wear clean, ’cause I think a lot of people have that problem.

Patric Richardson: Yeah.

Brett McKay: And we’ll talk more about how you use those supplies you mentioned the liquid hand soap, what you call the oily soap, brush, vinegar and oxygen bleach when we talk about stain removal. But now that we have our supplies on hand, let’s talk about washing our clothes. And you recommend that we should probably wash our clothes less often than we think. So how often do we actually need to wash our clothes?

Patric Richardson: Well, like my jeans, I have a pair of jeans on right now while I’m talking to you, and I’ve worn them several… I don’t really know ’cause I don’t wear them every day. I mean, I don’t wear them back to back, but I think you should wear your jeans nine or 10 times before you wash them. I try to wear my shirts two or three times unless like if I get a spot, I spot treat it. But if I get sweaty or whatever, then I’m gonna wash it. But our clothes just really aren’t that dirty, we don’t have to wash them every time. And the washing leads to abrasion, which causes them to break down.

Brett McKay: Yeah.

Patric Richardson: So I prefer… I mean, boxers and socks, we’re gonna wash those every single time.

Brett McKay: Right.

Patric Richardson: But your shirts, your jeans, that kind of stuff, you just don’t really have to wash it as often as you think.

Brett McKay: So what do you do? Can you hang it up, or should you air it out? I mean what kind of… What do you do in between washes?

Patric Richardson: You can… If you need to air it out, that’s great. I always, I mean I hang everything just because I don’t have much drawer space and I have a lot of hanging space. But if you needed to fold the jeans up, I’d let them air out a few hours to make sure they’re bone dry and then fold them up. My shirts, I just put them back on the hanger. And if you put them back on the hanger when they’re still warm, like, if you take your shirt off and immediately put it back on the hanger, usually the wrinkles just fall back out of it. You don’t even have to re-steam it.

Brett McKay: That’s cool something that we do in our household is we have like a half Z pile so it’s like we have like a rack in the closet where you put things on there where it’s… You wore it once it might not be dirty but it’s not ready to be washed yet and it allows it to air out and then you can always just pull it off whenever you’re ready to…

Patric Richardson: Do you know what’s really funny do you know there’s a trend for that and it’s called the laundry chair.

Brett McKay: The laundry chair.

Patric Richardson: That’s what it’s actually called yeah.

Brett McKay: Okay.

Patric Richardson: It’s people who have a chair in their bedroom and they take something off and throw it on the chair.

Brett McKay: Okay.

Patric Richardson: Because they want to wear it again.

Brett McKay: Yeah, I think there’s like butler’s chairs isn’t there like a butler chair people used to have in their closet where they’d hang stuff up maybe that…

Patric Richardson: Yeah there was actually.

Brett McKay: Yeah okay so you don’t need to wash your clothes as often as you think underwear socks you know wash that stuff all the time but other stuff you don’t need to wash as much. Like the jeans I’m wearing right now I think it’s been a month or two since they were washed.

Patric Richardson: Yeah. Yeah, they just don’t, They dont need it.

Brett McKay: Yeah. And I guess one downside of washing your jeans a lot is that it can reduce some of the, I don’t know, the look on it, like the dye. But maybe that’s not a problem. Maybe you actually want that.

Patric Richardson: Well, it’s funny. We generally want that out of denim because we have the ability to set the dye so they don’t fade. But most people like them to fade as they wash them. I mean, I do. If you don’t like them to fade, you actually can soak them in really hot water with a fourth a cup of salt and you’ll set the color forever.

Brett McKay: Really? Okay. I didn’t know that.

Patric Richardson: Yeah.

Brett McKay: So you do that once you get like a new pair of jeans, you just soak it in salt?

Patric Richardson: Yeah. Or even if you bought this pair of jeans a couple months ago and you just washed them for the first time. Let’s say you wash them two or three times and you love the way they look at that exact moment. You can do it then.

Brett McKay: Okay that’s cool yeah something I’ve been playing around with too lately was the Levi’s Shrink to Fit jeans the non…

Patric Richardson: Such a great look.

Brett McKay: Yeah so that’s cool ’cause you get to a point with those jeans where like they look like you want to keep this forever I just like that salt trick that is cool okay I like that.

Patric Richardson: I’ll tell you something really funny about Shrink to Fit jeans.

Brett McKay: Yeah.

Patric Richardson: Because this also is back and it’s totally unrelated to this conversation but it’s funny you When I was in college, I was in a store that was doing, that’s when Shrink to Fit had just come out. And if you bought a pair, you could climb into a hot tub with them. And shrink them to fit on you.

Brett McKay: That’s awesome.

Patric Richardson: Isn’t that hysterical?

Brett McKay: That is cool. So like right there in the store, they had like a hot tub. You just, you put them on then you…

Patric Richardson: Yeah, right in the middle of the store.

Brett McKay: That’s awesome. That’s cool.

Patric Richardson: And you just took your socks and shoes off and climbed in. And then you got out and you stood basically on this, it was kind of a big rack. I don’t know until, enough water dripped off. And then it was really hot outside. So they were like, well, just go outside. You’ll be good to go.

Brett McKay: We’ll take a quick break for a word from our sponsors. And now back to the show. The very first rule that you talk about of laundry in your book is don’t let your clothes tell you what to do. And basically what you’re telling people is just ignore the laundry care tag, which when I read that, like, this is blasphemy. Like my mother told me, like, you always read the tag. The internet says you read the tag. Why are you saying ignore the tag?

Patric Richardson: Because the tags say stupid things. Like, I’m wearing a cotton dress shirt right now. And it’s just a cotton shirt, but the tag says dry clean only. Well, that’s idiotic. It’s a cotton shirt. A cotton shirt can be washed. The one that always gets me is dry clean only for cashmere sweaters. I love cashmere sweaters. I live in Minnesota. I wear them all winter long. Okay? Cashmere goats are these smelly goats that live on the side of a mountain. And they just run around as, smelly goats. They stand in the rain, and the cashmere’s fine. The reason that it says dry clean only is because people don’t know how to do laundry. So, if you treat a cashmere sweater like you treat a cotton towel, no, you can’t wash it the same way, but you can still wash it. The hair is totally washable. The other thing that’s really interesting is if you buy a sweater in the United States and you buy the same sweater in Europe, it will have different care instructions because the Europeans are more familiar with laundry. So something in the US that says dry clean only, in Europe it will have washing instructions.

Brett McKay: That’s interesting. I didn’t know that. Yeah. So you make the case, you can wash every bit of clothing you own at home. You don’t have to take it to the dry cleaners.

Patric Richardson: Yeah, I haven’t been to the dry cleaner in at least 16 years.

Brett McKay: Could you wash, can I wash one of my wool suits at home if I wanted to?

Patric Richardson: Yeah. I just, in fact, I just washed a wool suit last week. You have to put them in a mesh bag. I mean, you can’t just throw them in the washer like anything. You have to put them in a mesh bag really tight so they don’t move around. And you just toss them in the washer. When they’re dry, you hang them up, let them dry and steam them out.

Brett McKay: That’s it. And it doesn’t, doesn’t harm the lining, like the silk lining you might have or whatever.

Patric Richardson: No, I mean, it’s because dry cleaning isn’t really a dry process. It’s a liquid. It’s dry because it isn’t water.

Brett McKay: It’s a chemical.

Patric Richardson: It’s a chemical, right. So it’s a liquid process. It’s just not water. The reason dry cleaning ever came into being was because when we first started doing dry cleaning in like the ’30s, when it became a thing, silk, at the time, silk is the second strongest fiber known to man. And at the time, we didn’t have the ability to dye silk permanently. And we actually dyed it with salt. And so if you got it in water, the water would dissolve the salt. What they found was petroleum wouldn’t dissolve the salt. So dry cleaning became a thing because of silk.

Brett McKay: That’s interesting. And you make the point in the book that this idea that you have to dry clean wool or even a wool suit. It’s kinda silly ’cause wool suits existed before dry cleaning existed and people cleaned those.

Patric Richardson: Right. I mean, think of the Victorians. They changed clothes more than a four-year-old. And they didn’t have dry cleaners. They washed everything. And we know that the clothes survived ’cause we still see them. You can go to museums. It’s not uncommon to go to a museum and see, a Civil War uniform or a mourning dress from the 1820s. And that stuff didn’t, there was no dry cleaning.

Brett McKay: Yeah. Okay. So ignore, you can wash things at home. You just have to know how to do it for certain things. You got to do it differently. We will talk about some of those things. Let’s talk about this sorting laundry. Do you recommend people sorting their clothes before washing?

Patric Richardson: The best way to sort. Is white as a load, black as a load, the cool colors, so blue, green, and purple with gray, the hot colors, red, orange, and yellow with brown. And then if you wear performance wear like Athleta, Lululemon, Under Armour, those, sort those in a separate load, and that’s it. So you don’t have to separate your white towels from your white t-shirts, from your white dress shirts, from your white sheets. They can all go in the washing machine together.

Brett McKay: Why do you sort the laundry based on these colors?

Patric Richardson: It’s based on the weight of the dye. I’m trying to minimize abrasion. And different dyes have different weights.

Brett McKay: So how does the dye cause that abrasion? Is it just…

Patric Richardson: It’s the weight.

Brett McKay: Okay, the weight of the clothes. So the weight of the clothes. Yeah, okay. A white t-shirt weighs less than a pair of…

Patric Richardson: A black t-shirt.

Brett McKay: Black t-shirt, okay. Okay, that’s interesting. So you’re sorting colors because you want the clothes in a load to be the same weight. You don’t wanna mix them together to have heavier clothes abrading lighter weight clothes in a load. So it’s not for the reason I think people in the past… You were told in the past, the reason why you sort is because you want to avoid dark stuff, mucking up your white stuff.

Patric Richardson: Well, right. And it originally happened because of the ringer washer. And then from there, you’re exactly right. Like we didn’t have the tech. Now, there again, we’re going to use technology. We didn’t have the technology to set the dye. So, there’s an episode of the Brady Bunch, I think, where Bobby does a load of laundry and he throws in a red sock and everything in the load turns pink.

Brett McKay: Yeah. That happened to me when I was a kid.

Patric Richardson: Yeah it was a thing then if you did that right now it probably wouldn’t happen.

Brett McKay: Okay ’cause the technology has changed the dye just sets better.

Patric Richardson: Yeah it’s just the quality of the dye is so much better.

Brett McKay: Okay, so we sort by this, what you just said. So whites together, blacks together, cool colors together, hot color and warm colors together. And then you want your athletic wear separate.

Patric Richardson: Right.

Brett McKay: Let’s talk about washing. Are we gonna wash these clothes any different from each other? Because you usually think you have to sort your whites ’cause you’re gonna wash that on hot. But your darks, you’re gonna wash on cool.

Patric Richardson: We’re gonna wash everything on warm. And we’re gonna wash everything on the express cycle. So the 30minute wash cycle. And warm water across the board. Now, I just said earlier, I have been schooled in the last two days because there is now a machine where you can wash on cold. As long as your water is 65 degrees or warmer, I don’t care what you call the cycle. I live in Minnesota. Our water is naturally very cold. So I never was able to use cold because I never had a machine that would bring the temperature up to 65. People in San Antonio, Texas can use cold. So I don’t care what you call the cycle. I just want the water to be 65 degrees or warmer.

Brett McKay: And is that 65 degree mark, is that when the detergent actually starts doing what it’s supposed to be doing? Is that why you want it that…

Patric Richardson: Yes.

Brett McKay: Okay.

Patric Richardson: That’s exactly why.

Brett McKay: Why not go hot?

Patric Richardson: Because the cotton, like your cotton towels, for example, they can totally take the hot water, but they’re sewn with polyester thread. Polyester just cannot take hot water. It breaks down too fast. That’s the reason your towels, the edges look like bacon, because the water was too hot in the washer or the dryer was too hot. And the polyester thread shrank. So warm is warm enough to get everything clean without doing any damage.

Brett McKay: And you said the cycle, you just want that express cycle. Like a lot of washing machines come with those different things that are… Like Permanent Press is one of them, I think, or whatever. Is that the term?

Patric Richardson: Yeah there’s Permanent Press, there’s delicate, there’s hand wash, there’s heavy duty, there’s sanitary. Yeah, the express cycle. If you don’t have an express cycle, by the way, use Permanent Press. But, you just want that short cycle because once you bring the temperature up, you bring the water to temperature and you add the detergent, it really only takes about two minutes for your clothes to come clean with a little bit of agitation. So when your clothes wash for 8 minutes in a 30-minute cycle, that’s more than long enough for them to come clean.

Brett McKay: And if you wash longer, you’re just wearing your clothes down more.

Patric Richardson: Yeah, you’re just breaking them down.

Brett McKay: Yeah. And you can do this to all your clothes, your whites, your jeans, your dark colors, your red. It doesn’t matter.

Patric Richardson: Absolutely. I just do this across the board.

Brett McKay: Even like a wool sweater, a cashmere sweater, do the same thing?

Patric Richardson: Yes, as long as you put it in a mesh bag.

Brett McKay: Okay.

Patric Richardson: You know, easy.

Brett McKay: Well, and speaking of cold water washing I’ve seen detergents that are like this is designed for cold water washing is there anything to that.

Patric Richardson: Well, it’s funny. If you read the fine print, they say that they think cold water is 65 degrees. Because the industry thinks cold is 65 degrees. The industry thinks warm water doesn’t come till about 80 degrees. So the industry thinks of cold as 65. It’s just municipal water. In Duluth, Minnesota in the winter, municipal water is 41 degrees.

Brett McKay: Yeah, that’s a difference. And I think in the book you talked about when you wash in cold water, like let’s say you’re Duluth, Minnesota, you wash in cold water, even with a cold water designed detergent, because it’s not warm enough to start activating, all what’s happening is that detergent is just staying in your clothes.

Patric Richardson: Exactly. And it’s easy to test because if you’re a cold water washer, flip your water to… Your cycle to warm, put something you’ve washed, so something that is “clean,” back in the machine, don’t do anything else. Just turn it on warm water and it’s gonna suds because all that detergent is going to activate.

Brett McKay: Right, ’cause it didn’t get activated the first time yeah.

Patric Richardson: Yeah.

Brett McKay: You washed it. Also with the detergent, we talked about that. You don’t want to use much. I think you said two tablespoons.

Patric Richardson: Two tablespoons for a full load. And if the load gets smaller, you need to start cutting it down.

Brett McKay: As a full load, it’s like it’s all the way to the top. Is that considered a full load?

Patric Richardson: It depends on your machine. Usually with a top loader, it’s somewhere between 70 and 75% full. And with a front loader, it’s usually up to about 80% full.

Brett McKay: Okay. So you’re going to wash your clothes on warm and on the express cycle, which takes only 30 minutes for all your stuff. I think that’s, it’s easy to remember. You don’t have to think about things too much anymore. Let’s talk about bleach. Should you bleach your whites? That was something I, my mom did growing up.

Patric Richardson: Yeah. You should never bleach your white there again. It’s a technology thing. The reason you shouldn’t bleach white is because the color that you’re thinking of is white, like a white dress shirt. It’s this beautiful, vibrant white. That color is known as optic white. It is not a naturally occurring color. To get what we think of as white, we use a blue dye. It’s called an optical whitener or an optical brightener, but it’s a blue dye. And so we dye the white white to get it that bright white color. When you use bleach, we know that bleach lifts color. That’s why we don’t put bleach in black, for example, because if you bleach black, it comes out kind of spotty gray. That’s what happens to white. It just takes three or four times of doing it before our eyes can perceive the difference in color. But once it happens, then your white looks dingy and there’s no repairing it.

Brett McKay: Yeah, I remember I experienced that when I was on my own for the first time and I had to wash some white dress shirts. And I was like, oh, I’ll throw bleach on it. And I don’t think I actually filled up the washing machine with water first before I put the bleach. I just put the bleach right on my shirts and then I pulled them out.

Patric Richardson: Got holes?

Brett McKay: I got holes and these yellow…

Patric Richardson: Yep.

Brett McKay: Stains. I’m like, oh okay, I used bleach wrong. So I stopped using bleach after that.

Patric Richardson: Good.

Brett McKay: So don’t use bleach. And I think you have been talking about, we’re not even using bleach to disinfect stuff anymore. Even in hospitals, they’re using other stuff.

Patric Richardson: Yeah, there’s other things that are better. I mean, at home, if you need things to be sanitary, just add vinegar.

Brett McKay: Yeah, vinegar’s all natural, cleaner, does wonders.

Patric Richardson: Yeah, it’s kind of an amazing thing, really, vinegar.

Brett McKay: It really is. I’ve been using vinegar on my glass shower door.

Patric Richardson: Yeah, absolutely.

Brett McKay: On the shower cleaner. And I’ve always had problems with the soap scum or just like the water stains. And I’d buy the really expensive, really smelly, doesn’t like my eyes would burn shower cleaner, and it would never get the stuff off. And then I just started using vinegar and water. And it’s awesome. It’s crystal clear. It’s amazing. It does better than Windex. It’s awesome.

Patric Richardson: Yeah, it’s great and easy and cheap.

Brett McKay: Yeah it’s super cheap. Okay, so for most stuff, you can just throw it in the laundry, the washing machine, you’re gonna be good. With certain items that are a little more delicate, you want to get these mesh bags. So what are you going to put in these mesh bags? So wool sweaters, other types of knits?

Patric Richardson: Anything wool or anything silk is the easiest way to think about it.

Brett McKay: Okay, and this could be also your wool suit.

Patric Richardson: Yeah, absolutely. If you do it, the jacket goes in one bag and the pants go in another.

Brett McKay: Okay. And you said they has to be to be packed pretty tight. Is that right?

Patric Richardson: Yeah, you want it like a sausage. So if your bag is too big, just push it to the bottom of the bag, then roll the bag around it and put a rubber band around it. You want it to be like a sausage when you wash it, ’cause the water will still move through it. It’ll still come clean. But you don’t want it rubbing against itself. The whole point is for it to not move inside that bag.

Brett McKay: And then when you dry sweaters or a suit, you’re not gonna put these in the dryer. You’re gonna let them air dry?

Patric Richardson: No. Anything that goes in a mesh bag never goes to the dryer.

Brett McKay: Okay. When you dry sweaters, something that we do is we lay them out flat on the ground on a towel. Do we need to do that?

Patric Richardson: Yeah, that’s a great way to do it. The other thing you can do is you can lay them across a drying rack. You don’t wanna hang sweaters up when they’re wet because you’ll get those hanger ears.

Brett McKay: Yeah. So you can hang them on the dryer rack to save space if you needed to do that?

Patric Richardson: Yes, you absolutely can. Because you kind of when you lay them on the drying rack, you lay them kind of, you’re folding kind of across the middle. So the weight is evenly distributed. So nothing really stretches out.

Brett McKay: Okay. All right. So we just saved people some dry cleaning bills. You can wash your wool sweaters, your suits at home, just air dry them out. Let’s talk about drying in general. Besides those items of clothing, which we’re going to allow to air dry, With the clothing you are throwing into the dryer or the textiles you are throwing in the dryer, this can include sheets and towels. How do people mess this up?

Patric Richardson: Dryer sheets is the first one ’cause you should never use those. And then the other thing is, people will turn the dryer on for two hours. Their clothes are dry in 30 minutes and then they just tumble in hot, dry heat. I mean, you’re just breaking them down right in front of you.

Brett McKay: Why don’t you use dryer sheets?

Patric Richardson: Because they coat the fabric. So fabric softener and dryer sheets, they coat the fabric. That’s how they work. And it does a couple things. It takes away absorbency. The first time you use fabric softener or dryer sheets on your towels, you reduce their absorbency by like 80%. It makes it harder to get stains out because stains get sort of trapped under this coating. And then it also takes away breathability. Like I’m thinking of like golf shirts or linen in the summer. If you use fabric softener on them, they can’t breathe. So that’s probably the worst thing you do to your clothes is fabric softener and dryer sheets.

Brett McKay: And so for the setting on the dryer, what are you gonna put that at? Just like the lowest setting possible?

Patric Richardson: I put it on warm and then I do… I always do it by time. Like I know that towels and sheets will dry in my dryer in 30 minutes, so I just do it by time.

Brett McKay: Okay. What do dryer balls do? We use those, but I’m wondering like what do they actually do?

Patric Richardson: They’re great. They actually speed up your drying time because they speed up the centrifugal or they maintain the centrifugal force of the dryer. So they keep the clothes tumbling so that they don’t nod up like your sheets did in the washing machine. They keep everything tumbling and since it’s tumbling and kind of loose, it’s just drying faster, so they’re pretty great, I leave them in the dryer, I never take them out.

Brett McKay: I’ve seen these things that kind of look like porcupines, what are… Or is that the same thing as a dryer ball?

Patric Richardson: Yeah, it’s a dryer ball, they’re just rubber.

Brett McKay: Okay.

Patric Richardson: Some people prefer those, whichever one you like, they work the same way.

Brett McKay: Yeah, we use the wool ones, the big giant wool balls. I feel like they soften clothes a little and maybe slightly reduce static. Do they reduce static?

Patric Richardson: They don’t, but the greatest thing in the world to reduce static is a ball of aluminum foil. You take a one yard piece of aluminum foil and make a ball a little bit bigger than a softball, throw it in the dryer, it will remove static better than anything you’ve ever used. It’ll continue to compress on itself, when it gets to the size of a walnut, you just throw it in recycling, and make a new one. But you will be amazed at how great it is on static.

Brett McKay: Alright. No more dryer sheets, no more fabric softeners then?

Patric Richardson: Exactly.

Brett McKay: I’m not a big fan of the smell when you’re like walking into your neighborhood and you could tell someone’s using a dryer sheet.

Patric Richardson: And at the worst ’cause you go outside to breathe the outdoors and then you end up breathing in chemicals.

Brett McKay: Yeah. Well speaking of this, people use fabric softener ’cause some people like that smell that Downy fresh. Any tips for people who want to make their clothes smell nice but not use fabric softener?

Patric Richardson: Yeah, put some essential oils on your wool ball. You can put a few drops of essential oils on your wool ball and it will scent your clothes in the dryer without staining anything. It’s great if you love that like fresh sort of liney, outdoorsy kinda smell, try lemongrass or Bergamot some people use lavender, I actually scent my sheets with peppermint, you can sort of pick what you want and what’s great is then you can pick whatever you want, you’re not relying on like river rain or something, but the essential oils are also completely safe. I’m gonna throw out a caveat here though, which I always do. If you’re gonna start using essential oils for your laundry, you need to do your own research as far as babies and pets.

Brett McKay: Okay. But why is that? I guess there’s like, you have an allergic reaction?

Patric Richardson: Some essential oils are not pet safe and some essential oils make babies grumpy.

Brett McKay: Interesting, you don’t want a grumpy baby.

Patric Richardson: Absolutely not. If you wash their clothes, you want them to take a nap.

Brett McKay: So maybe give them some lavender.

Patric Richardson: Yeah.

Brett McKay: Yeah, I was thinking like that the essential oils tip, I think it would be really nice to like have sandalwood, sandalwood smelling clothes, I think that would be cool.

Patric Richardson: Sandalwood would be fabulous, or oud would be great. I mean the thing is you can play around with them, depending on how far you wanted to go, if you wanted to like do your active wear or something, you could do like something citrusy because it would keep you very alert.

Brett McKay: I like that, I like this hack. I think I’m gonna get some essential oils. Usually I’m like, oh, essential oils, that’s kind of weird. But I like the essential oils for making your clothes smell nice. Speaking of athletic wear, I want to get back to more detail on this. Why is it so hard to get the stink out of athletic wear?

Patric Richardson: It’s the fabric that fabric is polyester and polyester is awesome. It is an amazing fabric, we could do anything with polyester, but we’ve never been able to get over this Oleophilic Hydrophobic thing, hates water, loves oil and it just loves the bacteria in your sweat and your sweat under your arms between your legs and behind your knees is oilier than any other sweat on your body.

Brett McKay: Okay, so it’s just holding onto that oil?

Patric Richardson: Yeah, it’s just holding that oil and the sweat’s in it. So that’s the reason we kind of held the activewear off, ’cause we’re gonna throw Oxygen Bleach in with it and the Oxygen Bleach is just gonna break that oil down. I mean the very first time you do it, it’s usually gone, if you know they’re biking shorts and you’ve had them for several years, you may have to wash them a couple of times before all the sweat’s gone. But you’ll notice a huge difference the very first time you do it.

Brett McKay: Do you need to pre-soak the shirts or the clothing?

Patric Richardson: No, you can just toss it in the washer, just put the oxygen bleach in with the shirts and you’re good to go.

Brett McKay: Do you have to dry them any differently? Like are you gonna use high heat or anything like that?

Patric Richardson: No, no, like that stuff I usually hang it all up, I don’t even put it in the dryer, but once you do the oxygen bleach, I mean you’re golden.

Brett McKay: Okay, that’s a good tip. Let’s talk about stain removal, how do you get rid of the most common stains you see? So, like red wine, coffee, spaghetti sauce how do you get rid of that stuff?

Patric Richardson: So usually, you kind of mentioned it’s funny, everything you ask use this one thing. Oxygen bleach will take out red wine, it’ll take out blood. If there’s color and there’s oil, spray it with vinegar and water, blot it and then scrub it with soap and a brush. The reason you do it in that order is because the oil keeps you from being able to get at the color with the brush or with the horse hair brush. So when you take the vinegar, you spray it with vinegar, it actually breaks down the surface tension of the stain, so then you can scrub that color out because you’ve already gotten rid of the oil. The reason people have trouble with those stains is because they don’t use the vinegar first, if you use the vinegar first, it’ll come right out.

Brett McKay: I loved your advice about getting rid of stains. You don’t really sweat stains, you’re like, yeah, we can take care of pretty much anything. You had an instance where someone called you, they were getting married that day and some kid like permanent marker, sharpy marker just drew all over the dress and you’re able to get the stain out.

Patric Richardson: While she had it on.

Brett McKay: While she had it on.

Patric Richardson: I mean she was at her wedding, she was at her wedding. And I had to leave the store, we were… And it’s funny ’cause as I told you, I have a store, it’s in the mall, so I couldn’t close and I was trying to get one of my employees to come in so I could get over to her. We were actually at the point where we were thinking about getting one of her bridesmaids to come work in my store, so that I could get to the wedding to get the sharpie out of the dress. Fortunately, somebody showed up and it was somebody who used to work for me and I was like, I need you to stay here 20 minutes, I’ll be back. We used some rubbing alcoholic came right out. What’s so great about anything is once you know you can remove a stain, you can wear anything you want, you can wear your tuxedo jacket with jeans and a T-shirt to a Taylor Swift concert if you want to, you can wear your cashmere sweater, fly fishing. Because once you can get it out, once you can get it clean, you can wear it when you wanna wear it.

Brett McKay: Yeah, you don’t have to be so precious with your clothes, you can actually enjoy them.

Patric Richardson: Right.

Brett McKay: What about this stain? I know a lot of guys listening might have experienced this with white dress shirts, the yellow armpit stain.

Patric Richardson: Yes, hardest stain there is to get out.

Brett McKay: Yeah. What’s going on there? What is that and why is it so hard to get out and how do you get it out?

Patric Richardson: So the reason it’s so hard to get out is because it throws the pH of the shirt off so far that the detergent just can’t do it. I’m gonna tell you a two part trick to this, ’cause there’s a trick and then a hack. The trick to get it out is take your oily hand soap or your oily laundry soap, put it on there, sprinkle Oxygen Bleach over the top of it, rub it in and let it sit, and you may need to let it sit a couple hours. Turn the hot water, the tap all the way to hot and put it under there and you’ll watch that stain melt out. Usually it’ll happen once if it’s really, really bad, you may have to do it twice, but it’ll come right out. But here’s the hack, once you get that stain out, or you’re starting with a new shirt, if every single time immediately before you start the washer, so you’re getting ready to wash your white dress shirts, if you spray the pits or the collar, that’s where the other people get it, where some people get it, or the cuffs with vinegar and water and throw it in the washer and the vinegar still has to be wet when the washer starts, you’ll never have the stain again.

Brett McKay: Ooh, that’s nice, I like that.

Patric Richardson: Yeah, it’s great because it actually, what it does is the stain is basic, the vinegar’s acidic, it brings the pH back close enough to neutral that your soap or your detergent can wash it out.

Brett McKay: Is the stain, is that just a mixture of sweat and the deodorant?

Patric Richardson: Yeah, it’s mainly the sweat, it’s the sweat acting with the fabric. The deodorant is there, which actually makes it a little harder ’cause it’s sort of waxy, but it’s really the sweat and the fabric that caused that yellowing.

Brett McKay: Well this has been great Patric. I mean, there’s a lot of great stuff in here.

Patric Richardson: Thanks.

Brett McKay: For Make your laundry better, where can people go to learn more about your work?

Patric Richardson: The easiest place is go to because you can watch my YouTube videos. I do a live every Thursday on YouTube where I answer questions. You can see videos, you can see places I’ve been featured. So if you wanna see TV or the Wall Street Journal, whatever you can see those and you can actually, you can see the products, but you can actually even submit a question and then I answer them on live. So if you have a question that you didn’t get today, you can ask it and then I answer them every Thursday.

Brett McKay: That’s awesome. Well, Patric Richardson, thanks for your time, it’s been a pleasure.

Patric Richardson: Thank you so much, thanks for having me this was so much fun.

Brett McKay: My guest today is Patric Richardson. He’s the author of the book Laundry Love, it’s available on You can learn more information about his work at his website, Also, check out our show notes at where you find links to resources where you can delve deeper into this topic.

Well, that wraps up another edition of the Art of Manliness, podcast. The Art of Manliness, podcast hosts guests from a wide range of fields so you can improve each and every area of your life. One week we could be discussing the philosophy of physical fitness, another the art of laundry. If you enjoy the ever fresh variety of the AoM podcast, consider taking a minute to leave the show a review or share it with a friend. I greatly appreciate all the generous folks who do so. As always, thank you for the continued support until next time, this is Brett McKay reminding you not only to listen to AoM podcast, but put what you’ve heard into action.

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